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Class of 2021

Dear Students,

I want to start by saying how proud I am of each of you. I have witnessed your efforts to keep up with your academics while in the back of your minds you have been worrying about so many significant and sobering world events. You have endured a pandemic, classroom bubbles, masks and hand sanitizers. You have seen classes and schools open and close like a laptop. But you are still standing.

You have been in-class, hybrid, online, in bed, learning many topics beyond the curriculum’s requirements. You participated in Zoom breakout groups for project presentations, YouTube videos ad-nauseam, Cahoots, Jeopardy, all the while worrying about your computer’s memory. I have seen and experienced your patience as teachers have tried to learn tech: the camera’s on, the sound’s off, individual messages accidentally sent to the group. But you persevered.

You make plans for a future even if you are still not convinced one will exist. You applied for CEGEP and jobs in a world that was closing down. We discussed impeachments, elections, and insurrection in the United States, the rise and fall in the value of stocks and bitcoin, George Floyd, boats aground and delayed in the Suez canal, another war in the middle east, the environment, the Olympics, and residential schools, all subjects that could lead to despair. But your resolve increased.

I am so impressed with the work you have produced, the insights you have developed, the creativity you employed, and the wonderful people you are becoming. I imagine that the pressures of home, school and the world, have weighed heavily on you. You have questioned the value of formal education, the prospect of ever owning your own home, and the vacuity of social media. At times you felt betrayed. You expressed disgust and dismay about decisions made by our leaders and authorities. But you persisted.

It is as if you were waiting for this challenge. You wanted to be tried and tested so that you could demonstrate your strengths. For every Malala, Jesperi, Greta, Justin, Billie, and Amanda, you have convinced me that there are classrooms full of young people who are inspired and prepared to also take a stand and make a difference. You are stronger now. You have not given up in the face of great adversity. You have changed. The world has changed. But you are ready.

Students, you have left an indelible mark on me. You have made me be a better teacher and a better person. Thank you! If I could leave you with a few final words, as your masked faces and muffled voices file out of our last class, they would be: maturity is overrated; read everything; seek, find, and share joy; stay active; embrace nature; and be kind. God bless you. Enjoy your summer!

James Watts

Principal Education Plus High School



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